TWISTED TERROR COLLECTION
FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE
One can never have too many Amicus horror productions on DVD and FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE is a more than respectable effort that features a strong British cast. FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE is an anthology film that features Peter Cushing as an Antique Shop Proprietor who deals in some really killer merchandise. The cast of FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE also features Ian Bannen, Ian Carmichael, Diana Dors, Margaret Leighton, Donald Pleasence, Nyree Dawn Porter, David Warner, Ian Ogilvy, Lesley-Anne Down, Jack Watson and Angela Pleasence.
SOMEONE'S WATCHING ME
After making HALLOWEEN, director John Carpenter’s next two productions, SOMEONE'S WATCHING ME and ELVIS appeared on the small screen. While many Carpenter fans would love to get their hands on a DVD release of ELVIS, SOMEONE'S WATCHING ME is a really solid Carpenter effort, which hopefully will tide them over until Carpenter’s final missing film makes its long overdue DVD debut. SOMEONE'S WATCHING ME is a decidedly voyeuristic Hitchcockian thriller about a beautiful woman who has caught the attention of an obsessed stalker. As a director, Carpenter’s strong suit has always been composition and camerawork, which he uses effectively to build tension in this film. The cast of SOMEONE'S WATCHING ME features Lauren Hutton, David Birney, Adrienne Barbeau, Charles Cyphers, Grainger Hines and Len Lesser.
EYES OF A STRANGER
The most notable thing about EYES OF A STRANGER is the presence of Jennifer Jason Leigh and Lauren Tewes. Other than that, EYES OF A STRANGER is a strictly by-the-numbers slasher thriller, with Tewes as the reporter trying to get the scoop on a serial killer, and Leigh as her handicapped sister ,who finds herself a potential target of the killer. The cast of EYES OF A STRANGER also features John DiSanti.
Directed by Oliver Stone and starring Michael Caine, THE HAND is a guilty pleasure that I have longed to own on DVD. I saw THE HAND back during its original theatrical release and though it was a hoot and it still holds up well today. THE HAND tells the story of a comic book artist who looses his drawing hand in a freak traffic accident. Factor in an unfaithful wife, plus the loss of his career and our artist soon finds himself waist deep in bodies. Has the artist lost his mind, or has his disembodied hand returned to seek vengeance on his behalf? The cast of THE HAND also features Andrea Marcovicci, Annie McEnroe, Bruce McGill, Viveca Lindfors, Rosemary Murphy, Mara Hobel, Pat Corley, Nicholas Hormann, Ed Marshall and Charles Fleischer.
Hungry director needs work. Will take on any project. Need not be good. While watching DEADLY FRIEND, I could almost see that ad running in a trade paper a week before Wes Craven got the job- because this really isn’t one of his better films. This juvenile Frankenstein story probably started off as someone’s idea of a black comedy, but it just doesn’t come off. The premise of DEADLY FRIEND involves a science geek, his robot and the pretty girl next door. When the girl is killed, science boy implants the robots microchips in her brain to bring her back to life. Not surprisingly, the killings start soon after. The cast of DEADLY FRIEND features Matthew Laborteaux, Kristy Swanson, Michael Sharrett, Anne Twomey, Anne Ramsey, Richard Marcus, Russ Marin, Lee Paul, Andrew Roperto and Charles Fleischer.
While DR. GIGGLES isn’t great cinema, it is campy black comic horror fun, best taken with a few shots of tequila… or whatever else your bartender is willing to write a prescription for. DR. GIGGLES finds Larry Drake in the title role, as a recently escaped lunatic (with a maniacal laugh and delusions of a medical license) on the prowl for horny teenagers to practice his own brand of bloody, gory surgery on. Sure, the premise can’t be taken seriously, but then again, that’s the whole point of this goofy horror exercise. The cast of DR. GIGGLES also features Holly Marie Combs, Cliff De Young, Glenn Quinn, Keith Diamond, Richard Bradford, Michelle Johnson, John Vickery, Nancy Fish, Sara Melson, Zoe Trilling, Darin Heames, Deborah Tucker and Doug E. Doug.
Warner Home Video has made all the movies that comprise the TWISTED TERROR COLLECTION ($50) available on DVD in 1.78:1 wide screen presentations that feature the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. Since SOMEONE'S WATCHING ME appeared on TV full frame in the US, I can only imagine that it was screened theatrically overseas and was shot with the intention of being shown in widescreen; it is also the grainiest film in the collection. The transfers vary from film to film, but all look good and produce reasonably sharp and well-defined images. FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE is the oldest film in the set, but the elements are well preserved. Colors are generally good; with the newer films having the best looking palettes. Digital compression artifacts are not a problem anywhere in the set.
The Dolby Digital soundtracks are just fine. FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE, SOMEONE'S WATCHING ME and EYES OF A STRANGER are monaural, while the rest are Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo surround. The monaural tracks get the job done without, bells, whistles or defects. Channel separations are fairly limited on the remaining selections, although DR. GIGGLES does have the strongest sense of presence. Fidelity is better on the stereo surround films, but the monaural films hold their own. DR. GIGGLES doesn’t have any additional audio track options; THE HAND offers a Spanish language track, while the remaining films have French and Spanish language options. English, French and Spanish subtitles are offered across the board.
Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some extras. FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE offers a Theatrical Trailer. SOMEONE'S WATCHING ME comes with an interview program John Carpenter: Director Rising. THE HAND features a running Audio Commentary with director Oliver Stone. DEADLY FRIEND includes a Theatrical Trailer.
Warner’s TWISTED TERROR COLLECTION offers some interesting titles and a couple not so interesting horror outings. The boxed set offers the best value, but one can pick and choose at $15 a pop.
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